What to Know About the Survival Rate of Coronavirus

According to Reuters, WHO officials stated at a news conference last week that “globally, about 3.4 percent of reported COVID-19 cases have died.” But this is where it gets complicated: in order to accurately calculate a survival rate, scientists have to know exactly how many people were infected. And, due to the fact that testing isn’t widely available yet, this statistic is really just an estimation.

It’s also important to note that during an outbreak like this, it’s the people who are the most unwell that go to the hospital to seek a diagnosis. As Natasha S. Hochberg, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Centre tells WH, if people who had mild cases (say, the asymptomatic) were also being tested, the survival rate would be far higher – and the mortality rate much lower. Still following?

To put it into perspective, let’s look at early estimates of coronavirus-related deaths in Wuhan, China. Initially, the mortality rate was around 2 or 3 per cent, but since China has reported more than 81,600 cases since the outbreak began, a team of infectious disease experts believe this is now closer to 1.4 per cent.

“Unfortunately, outbreaks have happened since ancient history and they will continue to happen,” Dr. Hochberg says. “The most critical thing we learn in each outbreak is the importance of international collaboration and sharing of data and resources. A virus anywhere can rapidly become a virus everywhere.”

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